QUESTION: What can be done about the Pancho’s building on Texas 31? It looks horrible.

ANSWER: Answer Line reported back in April that the city of Longview is working with the property owner to get the building torn down, and I asked Development Services Director Michael Shirley for an update this week.

It’s a substandard building that isn’t operational, he said, and the owner is voluntarily tearing the structure down. A project to safely address asbestos that was discovered in the building was completed a few weeks ago. Now, the owner is working to hire a contractor to demolish the structure.

“We’re not on a fast-track because it’s dangerous, but we are on a fast-track because it is a substandard building and we want to get rid of it,” Shirley said.

The owner is working with the city to address the situation, instead of the city following a formal process that, in other instances, sometimes means taking property owners to municipal court to force action to repair or tear down a substandard building.

Q: My question is regarding a new construction, a new business that seems to be in progress at the corner of Eastman road and Highway 80 — it would be the southwest corner. I’ve noticed they tore down the old place that used to be there and the dirt’s all torn up. It looks like they’re getting ready to build something.

A: Indeed something new is coming.

Our Business Beat column reported a couple of months ago that business partners Brian Hatchett and his father-in-law, optometrist J.T. Roberts, are building their 21st Zippy J’s convenience store at that location. (The official address is 1920 E. Marshall Ave.)

Just as a side note, that southwest corner at Eastman Road and Marshall Avenue previously was home to a car wash and several years ago, a restaurant. Both have been torn down.

Q: Whatever happened to Ricky Van Shelton, the country music star and religion singer — one of the best in the world?

A: The country music star has remained diligently retired since 2006, according to all the reports I found. (He announced his retirement in 2006 after an approximately 20-year recording career.)

He did record a greeting for the Randy Travis Tribute in 2017, and his wife, Bettye, represented him in 2017 when he was inducted into the Virginia Music Hall of Fame. Otherwise, he’s been pretty quiet.

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write to P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.